The Window Nook

Adventures in living abroad

A Week in Amsterdam

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The week in Amsterdam was a whirlwind of touring museums, enjoying rich cheese and velvety beer, and visiting extended family outside of the city.  This was punctuated by frequent periods of relaxation in quirky cafes, observing Dutch culture and enjoying excellently brewed coffee, with occasional adventuPostcardres in dealing with the Amsterdam public transport system. As a side note, I must point out that the motto ‘every year, it is chaos’ is probably not the best approach for a public transportation system when dealing with the challenges of a city marathon. One that is scheduled months in advance. Every year. But I digress.
One of my best memories of the week was spending several hours sitting with my dad outside a coffee shop, simply talking, remembering, and watching the activity on the street. Feet propped up on chairs, coats buttoned to keep out the October chill, we watched families heading out for an afternoons shopping, mothers on bakfiets (bicycles with an attached front passenger area for children) ferrying their children home from school, and local grocers restocking their bins with new deliveries. My dad took all of 24 hours to find a favorite cafe, become a regular customer known for his standard order, and even get double stamps on the loyalty card for some of his drinks. He even missed injury when the contractor remodeling this cafe spectacularly attempted to destroy a table by attacking it with a glass-paneled door. Thankfully, the table and door survived, although both ended up with a bit more character.
One major difference I noted in Amsterdam was the unique quality of the light. Along the curving canals, the stately, narrow Dutch homes are illuminated with a soft, hazy light. Shafts of sunlight are reflected in the canals, and the bursts of color from the autumn leaves are mimicked in the brightly colored bicycles parked along each street. FlowersOutside the city, strong winds push low clouds across the wide, flat fields, and occasional sun breaks fall with dazzling brightness across distant fields, creating a landscape of rich and vibrant green. While driving along the road to Ezinge, the village where my grandmother (Oma) was raised, I watched a gray and lowering sky shift dramatically, as the clouds parted and brilliant shafts of light poured onto the nearby fields. One can get used to cloudy days and diminished light, and then be dazzled by  the sudden brilliancy of the returning sun. After visiting the Netherlands, I now understand the fascination with light that characterizes so many Dutch paintings, including the works of Rembrandt.
I left Amsterdam with a wealth of memories. Dinners with my family, sitting together and laughing at our quirks and terrible puns. Falling asleep to the sound of rain against the window, and waking to a newly washed world. Buying delicious roiboos tea in a tiny store, which holds to title of ‘smallest house in Amsterdam’. Trying ginger dark chocolate… and liking it. Stopping halfway across a canal bridge to watch the light shift. Running an errand once an afternoon shower had stopped, and pausing to glance up as the sunlight fell across the tall, narrow, brick homes lining the road, light reflected in each clinging raindrop. Wandering through the Bloemenmarkt, taking photos of the vibrant hues of the flowers. The night view of central Amsterdam, stately buildings outlined in white lights, mirrored in the canals.


Author: annekemae

Enjoys writing, photography, reading mystery, historical fiction, and travelogues, chocolate in any form, and tulips.

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